Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann calls for increased access to community health dentistry services for low income and vulnerable Albertans

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has issued the following release calling on the Government to increased access to community health dentistry services for low income and vulnerable Albertans:

Dr. Swann says the NDP Government didn’t go far enough to give Albertan’s adequate access to dental care when it changed the dental fee guide in November.

Dr. Swann stated, “Some dentists are using the new fee schedule but many are not. This has been at best just a baby step but needy Albertans must have giant strides to receive adequate dental care.

“Essential dental care is not elective. The fee adjustments should have been made mandatory at a minimum.”

“This is necessary to prevent a myriad of serious health problems including tooth decay and oral diseases.”

Dr. Swann is calling on the NDP Government to increase access to community health dentistry services for low income and vulnerable Albertans.

“We need to ensure all Albertans have access to essential dental care for their own wellbeing and to improve workplace productivity.

“Alberta’s poor should not be made to endure rotting teeth and gum disease. This NPD Government claims to be “Socially Progressive”. It’s time to walk the talk. Make dental care more accessible to Albertans.”

More action needed to drive down Alberta’s high-cost dental care

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says more action is needed to drive down unacceptably high-cost dental care.

“We need a strong mandate for change in order to drive down unacceptably high-cost dental care in Alberta,” says Swann. “Instead, the NDP seems content just to tweak the status quo.

“They made an easy decision, rather than showing the real leadership Albertans need from their government today.”

Swann’s comments come in reaction to a government announcement unveiling revisions to the new fee guide that the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADAC) released to the public without ministerial input in August.

“Having a fee guide that more accurately reflects average prices and client expectations is good, but does little to resolve the problem of high, unregulated dental costs, including outrageous hygienist fees,” says Swann. “It will take a year or more to see if the guide will have any effect. Meanwhile, Albertans will still pay through the nose, since dentists can ultimately charge whatever they want.”

Swann points out there are many obstacles to overcome even with a new fee guide in place.

“Making an informed consumer decision is harder than both the ADAC and the government would have you believe,” says Swann. “Dentists should be required to discuss prices up front and publicly list their standard prices in comparison to the Fee Guide.

“If the government is serious about making dental health care affordable for the majority of Albertans, it needs to apply more pressure to lower costs, encourage open competition and ensure greater accountability for these high fees.”

Swann has been a vocal advocate for reducing dental fees in Alberta. He recently wrote to the Minister of Health to encourage her to take a stronger stand and press the ADAC to liberalize dental advertising rules, as well as consider separating the ADAC into separate entities.

Given the extreme demands on public dental services there is also clearly a need to increase public funding for services to children and low-income Albertans.

Swann’s letter and the Minister’s reply are available for viewing here on the Liberal Opposition website.